Operating its way through a “challenging year”
National Australia Bank Limited is a financial services organization with more than 42,800 employees — operating more than 1,750 stores and business banking centers — and has more than 529,500 shareholders.
The group’s main operations are based in Australia, with interests in New Zealand, Asia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The group aims to have fair products and services, fair fees and charges and world-class relationships built on the principles of help, guidance and advice.
In 2014, the group operated the following divisions:
• Australian Banking offers a range of banking products and services to retail and business customers, ranging from small and medium enterprises through to Australia’s largest institutions. Australian Banking comprises the personal and business banking franchises, fixed income, currencies and commodities (FICC), specialized finance, debt markets, asset servicing and treasury;
• NAB Wealth provides superannuation, investments and insurance solutions to retail, corporate and institutional clients. NAB Wealth operates one of the largest networks of financial advisers in Australia;
• NZ Banking comprises the retail, business, agri-business, corporate and insurance franchises in New Zealand, operating under the Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) brand. It excludes BNZ’s markets operations; and
• UK Banking operates under the Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank brands offering a range of banking services for both personal and business customers. These services are delivered through a network of retail branches, business and private banking centers, direct banking and broker based channels.
• NAB UK CRE portfolio business was created on Oct. 5, 2012 with the transfer of £5.6 billion of commercial real estate loan assets from Clydesdale Bank plc (Clydesdale Bank) to the company, managed via its London branch.
2014 was a challenging year for the group. The additional provisioning for UK conduct related matters, combined with capitalized software and deferred tax asset (DTA) provisions was disappointing. However, these issues are being dealt with transparently and appropriately, and the underlying performance of the group remains strong.
The group continued to better align the business to the changing economic landscape and customers’ evolving needs. It continues to focus on enhancing the core Australian and New Zealand franchise. At the same time the group continues to manage its international portfolio for value.
In Australia, the group has now fully implemented an integrated and simplified operating model that aligns the organization to the external environment and evolving customer needs. The model features:
• More streamlined customer management divisions focused on managing and growing customer relationships;
• A single product house to effectively coordinate and manage all product offerings and drive innovation;
• A centralized operation, shared services and transformation division to drive greater scale and efficiency, and delivery of business-wide transformation; and
• Centralized support divisions, bringing together risk, finance & strategy, people, communications and governance, to remove duplication and promote greater consistency.
Highlights of progress toward meeting 2014 strategic priorities include:
Focus on the core Australian and New Zealand franchise
The group focused on enhancing the Australian and New Zealand franchise by strengthening its relationship with customers in a number of ways during the year. For example, NAB Connect was upgraded with enhanced functionality to provide better direct relationships with customers. In business banking, centralized metro and regional fulfilment centers have been created to support improved customer relationships, while BNZ continues to focus on its mission of “Being the Bank for New Zealand” by helping New Zealanders be good with money.
The group introduced 98 wealth advisors across the Australian banking network, providing professional advice and meeting the needs of banking customers.
The group also continues to focus on improving cost and efficiency – optimizing the core business and providing customers with a better experience. Examples of simplifying and digitalizing the business include:
• Rebranding broker originated mortgages from Homeside to NAB to leverage the strength of the group’s main brand and reduce complexity;
• Upgrading the Australian Banking payments infrastructure to enable intraday settlement;
• Consolidating a number of product information databases into one, enabling staff to serve customers more quickly, and in turn drastically reducing both the number of branch support calls to customer contact centers and the average length of calls; and
• Rolling out of another two NAB “Smart Stores”- interactive and intelligent branch formats in which customers can either use the self-service channels on site, or be supported with help, guidance and advice from a NAB staff member.
On the digital front, the group continues to drive resilience and capacity upgrades across its digital channels to support the rapid uptake of digital services by NAB customers. Mobile Internet banking logins have increased by more than one third since 2013.
Manage International Portfolio
In common with the wider UK retail banking sector, Clydesdale Bank continues to deal with historical redress issues in relation to payment protection insurance and interest rate hedging products, which negatively affected the results of the group during the year. Excluding these impacts, the returns in UK Banking improved in line with the economic growth in that region. The NAB UK CRE portfolio is being wound down in an orderly manner, with a $3.2 billion reduction in 2014 that was a function of run-off and the sale of part of the portfolio.
Similarly, the run-down of the Specialized Group Assets (SGA) portfolio continued in 2014, with total assets contracting from $17.4 billion as at September 2009 to $3.3 billion as at September 2014.
On Oct. 15, 2014, the group sold a minority stake (31.8 percent) in US-based Great Western Bancorp Inc. through an initial public offering of shares in the U.S. The group plans to sell 100 percent of Great Western Bancorp Inc. over time, subject to market conditions.